Mitsui Chemicals Inc made a proposal to improve the added value of vehicle interior by using the "Milastomer" artificial leather at Automotive Engineering Exposition 2019, which took place from May 22 to 24, 2019, at Pacifico Yokohama.

The company prototyped two interior parts that show images of a display by utilizing the Milastomer, which transmits light.

The Milastomer is an olefin-based thermoplastic elastomer (TPV), which is made by combining polypropylene (PP) with olefin-based rubber. It has a good balance among long-term durability, abrasion resistance, scratch resistance and luster.

One of the applications that Mitsui Chemicals is proposing is an armrest. The armrest was co-developed with Arm (a firm based in Osaka City). It was made by placing a transparent urethane-based base material having the shape of an armrest on a small projector, mounting a touch panel and covering it with the Milastomer.

The armrest developed for proposing a new added value. It uses artificial leather that transmits light. (source: Nikkei xTech)

A white sheet-like Milastomer was used to form leather-like grains on the surface. Its thickness was reduced so that light of the small projector can easily pass through it.

A control panel is displayed on the armrest by using light of the small projector. It contains a touch panel and enables to control an air conditioner, audio devices, etc. (source: Nikkei xTech)

0.5mm thickness

Another proposal is the surface of a touch display expected to be used for instrument panels, etc.

The surface of a touch display expected to be used for instrument panels, etc (source: Nikkei xTech)

For this application, Mitsui Chemicals employed the "SH Series" of the Milastomer, which supports injection molding. The most distinguishing feature of the SH Series is that it has a high fluidity (melt flow rate: 250g per 10 minutes). Therefore, it enables to form an artificial leather product that has a thickness of 0.5mm and can transmit light of a display to show characters, drawings, etc on the artificial leather.

Characters, drawings, etc displayed on the surface. By injection-molding a high-fluidity artificial leather, a thickness of 0.5mm was realized. Because of the thinness, characters, drawings, etc can be displayed on the artificial leather by transmitting light. (source: Nikkei xTech)

Original Japanese article